Be Specific: Brazilian icon Gilberto Gil discusses his indie rock acolytes
By Allison Stewart
A beloved Brazilian musical icon and onetime political refugee, Tropicália pioneer Gilberto Gil also acted as Brazil’s Minister of Culture from 2003-2008 before resigning to concentrate on his music career. “I don’t miss the politics,” Gil, 67, said in a phone interview. “The political side of it was something very difficult, so I don’t miss it, but the cultural [side] I miss.”
Gil’s music has profoundly influenced a new generation of bands including Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart and countless others. Click Track asked the Gil, who performs at the Lisner Auditorium on Saturday in support of his 2009 disc “Bandadois,” what he thought of some of his most famous followers.
How do you feel about Devendra Banhart?
We performed together a couple of years ago in LA…I’m fond of him. That [period of being an influence] started before, when Jobim and João Gilberto started promoting Bossa Nova all over the world. The response was very intense, very strong, and lots of followers showed up. Now the same is happening with the second generation, which is my generation. They’re now followed, and that’s good.
Are you familiar with Animal Collective?
Yeah, yeah. The rappers?
They’re more of a pop band. They’re influenced by Tropicália, and by extension what you do.
I’m glad that they recognize that kind of element and it’s being absorbed by them from the Brazilian culture. I appreciate that. We have…common ground. Both American and Brazilian music are grounded on Afro elements, and this is one of the reasons that American groups are referring to Brazilian sources, that’s a natural thing.
David Byrne also seems very influenced by you.
Yeah, besides being a good friend. We became very good friends after he decided to present Brazilian music through collections that he did, and he himself has recorded Brazilian songs….I think this is great. He’s a great friend.
Besides David Byrne, is there another American act you can think of that really represents the spirit of what you do?
Oh…it doesn’t come to me immediately like that, a name of a band….[Jazz] people like Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny, people that refer to lots of different periods of Brazilian music like the Bossa Nova and the Tropicália. Lots of bands; hip-hop bands, jazz bands, rock bands.
What are you listening to these days?
I listen erratically to different things….My kids come up with different stuff from Europe, African stuff, American stuff, South American stuff. I don’t have a preference.
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